Lesotho:Lesotho reminds SADC that gender equality is possible

Lesotho:Lesotho reminds SADC that gender equality is possible

Date: August 27, 2014
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Maseru, 15 April: Lesotho ranks highest in the SADC region in having women in political decision making sphere, and this “reminds us that women equal participation is possible and it is important”, excitedly said Gender Links Chief Executive Officer, Colleen Lowe-Morna at the Lesotho SADC Gender Protocol Summit 2014, Maseru Sun Cabanas.

On the first day of the two day summit, starting on the 14 April 2014, Lowe-Morna, welcomed everybody, adding that “I am very delighted to be a part of the second national Lesotho summit that has already proved to be a great success as more than sixty entries in a wide range of categories have been recorded.” The theme, she went on, is ’50/50 by 2015 and demanding a strong post 2015 agenda!”

Setting the stage for the Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation opening address, the CEO further stated that: “It is unfortunate that Lesotho will host its next elections in the year 2017, which will be way past the 2015 deadline. This is more of a reason why we are also focusing on the post period of our target.”

She clarified her opening remarks adding that: “I would like to commend Lesotho with the progress made so far, with the primary point here being that empowered women bring forth changes and opportunities to help other women”, adding finding more women in parliament and decision making matters a lot in gender equality.

Drawing closer to her presentation, she indicated that Gender Links is “also fully aware of the existing challenges that still persist in gender equality advocacy, which include gender based violence, rape, HIV and AIDS discrimination, and that economic positions for women are still compromised and traditional barriers are still exercised within remote areas of the country.”

She stepped down the podium after determinantly hammering on the issue that it might take quite a number of years to achieve gender equality, “but our ultimate goal is to a achieve a government for men and women, by men and women as an attempt of eradicating most of the challenges faced on a daily bases.” These words clearly seemed to fall into the ears of gender equality-struck and set to work participants.

The Director of the Media Institute of Lesotho (MISA), a media practitioner and activist, Tsebo Mats’asa, followed in the setting of the stage for the minister by indicating that gender policy in the local media sector still needs significant adjustments in order to achieve practitioners’ gender equality. “The reality is that there are many women journalists in the industry, but very noticeably few of them are at decision making positions”, he said regrettably.

He also cited that women, surprisingly including women journalists, do not sufficiently and systematically engage the media about gender equality. “This is not helping to curb improper media practices”, he said, not missing to mention that there is a need to for strong advocacy for a highly noticeable change in the way the media are dealing with women issues as news subjects and as media workers.

Concluding his presentation with a plenty of punch, he said: “Women should be fairly featured in prominent news and issues; they should not only be focal point of negative news items, with clear gender insensitive characteristics; and they deserve equal and human treatment.” He said if they are not treated fairly and humanly, it is socially and morally wrong.

The stage setting for the minister was brought to an end by the Women and Law in Southern Africa National Coordinator, Libakiso Matlho. She began by indicating that lack of resources, including finance, is keeping women out of politics as there are some remote areas that need a lot of finance to be reached.

The resources problems is tightly linked up with various national stereotypes. The stereotypes include the perception that it is wrong for a woman to traverse her village, constituency and the country campaigning for a political position. The still strongly prevailing view is that this is “unacceptable behaviour from a woman, which makes her not to have acceptable time for home responsibilities – that is time for attending to the kitchen, fields work, attending to children.”

“Serious measures taken to change this discrimination of women”, she said passionately, adding that the measures should include better gender policies and services to make the participation of women in politics easy.

She went on by stating that the government should put in place mechanisms that will ensure that in the 2017 election there are more women campaigning for parliamentary seats.

She concluded her talk by saying that lobbying and advocacy should not stop. These tools should be continuously used at political leadership and the community levels in order to achieve desired participation targets that “we are still to achieve”, points that received a resounding round of applause from the participants.

The stage set for him, the Minister of Gender, Youth, Sport and Recreation, Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane remarked that “women do not elect other women to political positions”, adding that “they repeatedly elect men to leadership positions in politics and many other areas.”

“This seems to say that women do not trust other women, and it undermines the whole idea of gender equality in politics and other areas.” “Why?”, he asked with surprise etched on his face, and with some incoherence due to being surprised by this, he added that this “dents this good gender equality pursuit.”

He showed that there is generally around 40% of women in national decision making levels, and said around 26% of women cabinet. “This clearly shows there is need the support of the 50/50 by 2015 and beyond agenda”, linking this with the suggestion that there should be more stakeholder meetings.

The minister ended by mentioning that SADC in 2014 is only half way to seeing that women are active participation in politics and other important national spheres. This makes the ’50/50 by 2015′ target more urgent, and ‘demanding a strong post 2015 agenda’ necessary, his final statement being that “I wish you lots of luck on this important human challenge.”

This article is part of the GL News Service special coverage of the SADC Gender Protocol Summits underway across the region, offering fresh views on everyday news.


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